Medical Malpractice Statute Of Limitations: What Is It And How Does It Work


Medical professionals who have acted negligently while caring for a patient may have a claim brought against them for medical malpractice.  Medical malpractice is a negligence action that applies only to medical professionals who have made a medical mistake.  However, injured patients only have a short period of time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Every state has a statute of limitations which determines how long a person has to bring a lawsuit after something happens.  If a lawsuit is not brought within that time frame a person cannot sue, with few exceptions, regardless of how good of a case they had.  Therefore it is important that patients who have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional be aware of the applicable statute of limitations.

In New York, the statute of limitations to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit is two and a half years.  In the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits the statute begins to run from the date the malpractice occurred, not the date the malpractice was discovered.  However, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations.

Exceptions to the statute of limitations may allow a patient to “toll” (or delay) the date the statute of limitations begins to run.  The first exception is the Continuous Treatment Doctrine which applies when you have been treated by the same doctor for the same condition the malpractice was related to.  This means that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until after treatment for the injury ended, not when the injury occurred.

The Foreign Object Rule is another exception.  This rule exists to help patients who have had things, such as sponges, scalpels, scissors or clamps, left inside them accidentally during a surgery.  The rule gives the patient a choice of when to begin commencing the statute of limitations.  The patient can start the statue from the date of the surgery and use the standard two and a half years, or, if this time frame is too short or has run, you can add a year from the date the patient discovered the object or reasonably should have discovered the object.

Other exceptions also exist, such as for minors, a patient should generally try to bring a lawsuit as soon as medical malpractice is suspected to have occurred because it is easier to try to bring the lawsuit within the standard statute of limitations, rather than trying to toll it.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of the negligence of a medical professional, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at